Skip to main content
Select Source:

ransom

ransom, price of redemption demanded by the captor of a person, vessel, or city. In ancient times cities frequently paid ransom to prevent their plundering by captors. The custom of ransoming was formerly sanctioned by law. Soldiers, given the right to kill or enslave their prisoners, frequently preferred to free them after receiving payment. This mitigated bloodshed, for it was more profitable to hold enemies for ransom than to massacre them. One of the rights of a feudal lord was to call upon his tenants to ransom him if he were captured in battle. The amount of ransom varied with the rank of the captive; a king or a noted warrior brought a great sum. For the payment of the ransom of Richard I (Richard Cœur de Lion) a special tax was levied in England; the French sovereign paid heavy ransoms for Bertrand Du Guesclin; and Scotland was impoverished in paying for James I. Merchant vessels captured in privateering were sometimes ransomed by their owners. After receiving the ransom, the privateer sometimes furnished a ransom bill, which allowed safe conduct for the ship to one of her native ports. Today the term generally refers to the sum paid to a kidnapper for the release of an individual or to an airplane hijacker for the release of passengers, crew, and plane.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"ransom." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"ransom." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 17, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/ransom

"ransom." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved August 17, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/ransom

ransom

ran·som / ˈransəm/ • n. a sum of money or other payment demanded or paid for the release of a prisoner. ∎  the holding or freeing of a prisoner in return for payment of such money: the capture and ransom of the king. • v. [tr.] obtain the release of (a prisoner) by making a payment demanded: the lord was captured in war and had to be ransomed. ∎  hold (a prisoner) and demand payment for their release: mercenaries burned the village and ransomed the inhabitants. ∎  release (a prisoner) after receiving payment. PHRASES: hold someone/something at (or for) ransom hold someone prisoner and demand payment for their release. ∎  demand concessions from a person or organization by threatening damaging action. a king's ransom a huge amount of money; a fortune.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"ransom." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"ransom." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 17, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/ransom-0

"ransom." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Retrieved August 17, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/ransom-0

Ransom

Ransom. It is recognized in Judaism that compensation can be paid to avoid punishment, slavery, or death. In ancient Israel, it was common to pay ransom as an alternative to corporal punishment except in the case of murder (Numbers 35. 31–4). The issue of whether a ransom is possible, or whether exact retribution must be made, was disputed between Sadducees (who maintained that no ransom by way of payment is possible) and their opponents (who held that substitution by way of payment is possible except in cases of wilful murder). This means that the remark attributed to Jesus in Mark 10. 45 is more likely to be authentic than not, since there are other instances of Jesus using the current debates to make his own creative interpretation.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Ransom." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Ransom." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 17, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/ransom

"Ransom." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. . Retrieved August 17, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/ransom

ransom

ransom procuring the release of a prisoner by a payment, sum so paid. XIII. ME. rans(o)un — OF. ransoun, raençon (mod. rançon):- L. redemptiō, -ōn- REDEMPTION.
So ransom vb. XIII. — OF. ransouner (mod. rançonner).

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"ransom." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"ransom." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 17, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/ransom-1

"ransom." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Retrieved August 17, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/ransom-1

ransom

ransomhansom, ransom, Ransome, transom •Wrexham • sensum • Epsom • jetsam •lissom • winsome • gypsum • alyssum •blossom, opossum, possum •flotsam • awesome • balsam • Folsom •noisome • twosome •fulsome • buxom • Hilversum •irksome • Gresham • meerschaum •petersham • nasturtium •atom, Euratom •factum •bantam, phantom •sanctum •desideratum, erratum, post-partum, stratum •substratum • rectum • momentum •septum •datum, petrolatum, pomatum, Tatum, ultimatum •arboretum • dictum • symptom •ad infinitum •bottom, rock-bottom •quantum •autumn, postmortem •factotum, Gotham, scrotum, teetotum, totem •sputum •accustom, custom •diatom • anthem • Bentham • Botham •fathom • rhythm • biorhythm •algorithm • logarithm • sempervivum •ovum • William

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"ransom." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"ransom." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 17, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/ransom

"ransom." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Retrieved August 17, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/ransom